Saturday was a tough game. Arsenal were off the pace. Watford were bang up for it. Despite the 3-0 score line, it was a game we could have lost.
In seasons gone past, it is not a game we could have lost, but a game we would have lost. The majority of our side being off on international duty, up against a physical side who towered over us, defended in groups, and ensure our players knew they were there.
Watford certainly had their chances, and it would not have been too unfair had they gone into half time 2-0 up. But we held firm – just, and as they wilted we took advantage.
The pressing game Watford were playing was brilliant, for 60 minutes. They were defending in 4’s, with 2 men putting pressure on the player on the ball, and the other 2 cutting out any chance of a short pass. It forced us to go backwards, or more often then not, to lose the ball. It was excellent defending. But as long as it stayed 0-0, you knew they would die, and they did.
After Sanchez’s goal, Arsenal showed the strength of their bench, brining on Giroud and Oxlade-Chamberlain. My pal turned round to me and said “Giroud is the best plan B in the Premier League” and he is correct. His power causes issues against the best of players, but when he comes on with minutes to go against centre backs who have spent 65 minutes chasing Theo Walcott, he is near enough unplayable. I think he won every single aerial challenge when he came on.
So 3 points in the bag. 2nd in the League. 2 points off top. 9 games gone. It is too early to start dreaming the impossible dream, however, it is now the time we need to look at ourselves as genuine title contenders. We are in the race guys.
It is currently looking like a 3 horse race; with Chelsea’s poor form meaning that they are already a long way behind. Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United. 2 points separate them all, and looking at the games between now and the end of November, Arsenal have a chance of going into the winter top of the table:
|Man City||Arsenal||Man Utd|
|Man Utd (a)||Everton (h)||Man City (h)|
|Norwich (h)||Swansea (a)||Crystal Palace (a)|
|Aston Villa (a)||Spurs (h)||WBA (h)|
|Liverpool (h)||WBA (a)||Watford (a)|
|Soton (h)||Norwich (a)||Leicester (a)|
With Manchester City & Manchester United playing each other next Sunday, Arsenal have a chance at home against Everton on the Saturday to top the league, for 24 hours at least. And that will be a brilliant achievement after the disappointment of the transfer window and opening day defeat to West Ham.
I still struggle to see beyond Manchester City however. After back to back defeats bought them back towards the pack, to go out and score 11 goals in 2 games sends out a message. And when you consider they destroyed Bournemouth 5-1 without Sergio Aguero, David Silva or Vincent Kompany. It shows how strong their squad is. When their replacements (Bony, Otemaendi, De Bruyne) cost over £100m, and their entire starting 11 still costing nearly £250m, it should not be a surprise that they thrash newly promoted Bournemouth.
I guess it shows you get what you pay for, ad Wenger should take note of that.
Imagine Arsenal playing without Sanchez, Ozil & Koscielny. Add in a right back playing t left back. We would struggle. We certainly would not score 5!
Arsenal are contenders, and for that we should be happy, but we are further away from City then the 2 points in the league would suggest.